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Is there radiation in your water?
Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Togiak/wildlife_and_habitat/seal head in water
Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service http://www.fws.gov/refuge/Togiak/wildlife_and_habitat/seal.html

Well is there?
Photo by J. M. Garg CC-BY-SA-3.0, cropped, via Wikimedia
Photo by J. M. Garg CC-BY-SA-3.0, cropped, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhesus_macaque

Is there radiation in your drinking water, which exceeds the safe drinking water limits for radionuclides, including extra dangerous alpha emitters like plutonium and americium, which bioaccumulate over decades in the body? If you are a drinking water provider, and not a sea mammal, fish, or other wildlife; nor the user of a private well,
U.S. Fish-Wildlife Service http://www.fws. gov/refuge/Togiak/wildlife_and_habitat/seal baby
Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service http://www.fws.gov/refuge/Togiak/wildlife_and_habitat/seal.html

the US EPA has an easy solution for you. Dilute it with clean water until it is in accord with their “clean water” “standard”. This is really what is called following the letter of the law, as opposed to the spirit of the law!

Since the US NRC allows nuclear facilities to emit radionuclides exceeding the amount of radionuclides allowed in “clean” water, then there obviously risks being a problem that the water may exceed the level of radionuclides, which the EPA-Clean Water Act calls “safe”. Additionally, since there are not limits to the amounts emitted, but rather dilution limits, and many of the radionuclides are staying in the environment for 100s and even thousands of years, they are constantly increasing in the environment over time, and will continue to do so, until the nuclear industry is shut down, and the waste properly disposed of and monitored.

If the water provider can’t find any clean water – which will be more and more the case – it needs to be filtered, in order to follow the EPA “compliance standard”. And, the EPA advises on that too. They advise on filtration.

But, where do those filters – filtration wastes eventually have to go? Whether filters-filtration waste from nuclear facilities, mining, or for cleaning drinking water, it goes to low level waste dumps. These include not only the official ones listed by the NRC: http://www.nrc.gov/waste/llw-disposal/licensing/locations.html, but apparently the state of Tennessee, as well: http://tectn.org/nuclear-waste-issues-in-tn-by-don-safer/
The South Carolina Barnwell site has decided to limit the amount it takes to several states, because – guess what? The radionuclides were leaking excessively from the site. They are supposed to keep water out. But, how to do that, over time, in a hot, wet, climate like in South Carolina?

As is obvious, there is more and more of the stuff because there is a vicious circle – everything in the nuclear cycle makes low level waste, starting with mining. Whatever is emitted without filtration will eventually have to be filtered or diluted, which makes more low level waste. The low level waste itself will leak, whether slowly or quickly, and eventually need filtering, producing more low level waste, which as we have seen, is not so low level and includes the most dangerous of radionuclides – though all radionuclides are dangerous, of course. (Dilute and deceive will continue to work in some places, but for how much longer? Don’t wonder about sea animals being sick, as nuclear reactor waste water is legally leaked and “diluted” into the rivers and oceans).

Thus, the US NRC has increasing problems about how to deal with the low level waste. It can be only exacerbated by the waste disposal being a for profit activity, increasingly by investment bankers (e.g. “Energy Solutions”).

The US NRC wants public comments about how to solve their dilemma by September 15th: Comment period re Low Level Waste ends on September 15, 2014: http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=NRC-2014-0080-0002
The law is available to start studying here: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CFR-2011-title10-vol2/pdf/CFR-2011-title10-vol2-part61.pdf (There may be a 2012 or more recent version but this is all that we could find. The Cornell law school web site seems to tell when and if there were modifications).

Here is the US EPA Advice for coming into “compliance”. We added underline. We also blacked out their deceptive wording about “naturally occurring radionuclides” as there is nothing natural about plutonium, americium, etc. Even where there is Naturally Occurring Radioactive waste, NORM, much, and maybe most, is actually TENORM or technologically enhanced naturally occurring radionuclides, meaning that the radium, uranium, etc. are disturbed and concentrated during uranium mining; sometimes other mining, and even by the petroleum industry. Most radionuclides of concern are not natural, outside possibly trace amounts, and natural is not necessarily safe.

EPA Steps to Selecting a Compliance Option for the Radionuclides Rule
EPA Steps to Selecting a Compliance Option for the Radionuclides Rule, p. 2
EPA Steps to Selecting a Compliance Option for the Radionuclides Rule, p. 3
EPA Steps to Selecting a Compliance Option for the Radionuclides Rule, p. 4
EPA Steps to Selecting a Compliance Option for the Radionuclides Rule, p. 5
EPA Steps to Selecting a Compliance Option for the Radionuclides Rule, p. 6
EPA Steps to Selecting a Compliance Option for the Radionuclides Rule, p. 7
EPA Steps to Selecting a Compliance Option for the Radionuclides Rule Conclusion
http://water.epa.gov/lawsregs/rulesregs/sdwa/radionuclides/upload/guide_radionuclides_stepstoselecting.pdf
Some details of the filtration options are here: http://www.epa.gov/safewater/radionuclides/pdfs/learn.pdf

One “solution” for Low Level Waste is now putting it in mounds, as will be done at Port Hope, Ontario, which as the name implies is on Lake Ontario: http://www.phai.ca/site/media/phai/What-you-should-know_web.pdf http://www.phai.ca/en/home/port-hope-project/default.aspx

This, of course is why some worry about what sign to put to keep people out over hundreds and even thousands of years. It could give mummy curses new meaning and significance. Not to worry, however. If the nuclear industry isn’t shut down soon, there won’t be any people to keep out. And, over time, if not monitored and accessible for repackaging, the waste will leak. It’s just a matter of how quickly. Perhaps the nuclear industry and their governmental lackeys hope that it’s not in the abbreviated 70 years that they allot to us in their risk assessments. But, stuff has and is leaking and they appear rarely held accountable.

There is, of course, another way to contain some of the waste in mounds. Many of the most dangerous radionuclides are bone-seekers. They accumulate in the body over a life time and much stays in the bones. So, unless the body is cremated, the bones would hold onto the radiation until they break down. If bodies are well-sealed in vaults, even the flesh can be slow to break-down. The US FDA recently raised the amounts of radionuclides in food sky high – 15 times the levels allowed in Japan. It is also very high in Canada and Australia. Though half the amount of the US, Europe also has high amounts of radionuclides allowed in food. So, one of their ideal “low level waste” storage facilities seems to be in their citizens. Cremation, of course, would liberate it into the air more quickly and require filtration. Cremation facilities do generally have to filtrate for mercury due to mercury fillings.

The German military cemetery in La Cambe, Normandy.  The cemetery is the resting place for about 20000 German soldiers public domain via wikimedia
The German military cemetery in La Cambe, Normandy. The cemetery is the resting place for about 20000 German soldiers. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Cambe_German_war_cemetery